"Steve Vai is probably like one of my all-time favorite guitar players, ever! I mean he's the reason why I started playing guitar anyway."
Finlandís Children of Bodom are at it again, here with their fifth studio album, Are You Dead Yet? in addition, are currently on their first headlining tour ripping it up through the States and beyond! In my conversation with the bandís frontman and guitar extraordinaire, Alexi Laiho, he discusses his views on a plethora of subjects: the dismissal of Nightwish's singer to his thought's on the upcoming anniversary of Dimebag's death, to his experience meeting his idol, Steve Vai, down to his most embarrassing moment. Alexi also kindly answers his fan's questions.
Karma: I would like to say thanks a lot for interviewing with me again Alexi.
Alexi: No problem.
Karma: How's the tour going so far even though I know itís early on, a couple of days in? How does it feel to be headlining finally?
Alexi: First of all the fear wasÖitís still kind of scary in a way because itís our responsibility to pull all of the people here you know. [Smiles] So if nobody shows up itís our fucking fault! [We both laugh]
Karma: Fat chance of that happening!
Alexi: Well now, I donít know! So far, itís been pretty good. All of the Canadian dates, which was like three, were all sold out. Yesterday in Detroit, it was like, really, really good! [Smiles] And today apparently, itís not sold outÖ
Karma: Öactually, it is!
Alexi: It is?
Karma: According to the marquee outside it is.
Alexi: [Chuckles] Well then so far, itís been pretty good!
Karma: Congrats on the freshly released Are You Dead Yet?.
Alexi: Thank you! [Smiles]
Karma: So how do you feel about it?
Alexi: I still feel good about it. [Smiles] Itís like normally it takes a couple of months and then you kinda start picking out stuff that pisses you off about the album, you know. Something that would play good enough or some sounds or whatever. So far for me itís still good definitely!
Karma: Are there any songs off the album that are still difficult for you to perform?
Alexi: You know, we have gotten used to it. When we first started playing the new songs, which was in Australia actually. We did Australia and Japan before this tour. First, it felt kind of weird; Ďcos playing wise there, itís just a little bit different than the old stuff. For me, thereís a lot more crazy stuff to, you know, like sing and play at the same time. Like really crazy rhythms, you know with the guitar and do a completely different thing with the vocals to get used to it. But now, itís okay!
Karma: Well thatís good to hear. I understand you tuned your guitars to low E this go round or is that true?
Alexi: HmmmÖweíre actually tuned down to D and then weíve got the drop tuning to C.
Karma: Are you planning on going in that direction going forward?
Alexi: Well I mean thatís for now. [Smiles] We donít know whatís gonna happen in the future but weíll always have low tuning guitars but now itís actually lower.
Karma: AYDY marked your fifth studio release, what lessons have you learned thus far? Especially from mistakes made previously, are there any that you will not repeat?
Alexi: Well, you know when it comes to recording an album; itís always a good idea to practice a lot before you go into the studio. It saves a lot of time and a lot of money if you actually know what the hell youíre doing. [Smiles] And this time around, it was only six weeks recording and mixing as well, so it was pretty quick actually. [Pauses] Iím trying to think of something that I would have done wrong. I just thinkÖ Oh, you know, there is one thing actually; I always, like am slacking off when it comes to writing the lyrics. I always write them in the studio or something like that.
This time around I had to take three days off in the middle of recording my vocals Ďcos I didnít have any fucking lyrics for a couple of songs. [Chuckles] So I was just sitting in my fucking apartment drinking whiskey three days in a row and writing lyrics. [We both laugh] So I think actually for the next one, I might actually have them ready before I go into the studio.
Karma: Sounds like a plan! What's your favorite track off AYDY?
Alexi: That changes all the time, first it was track number five, "In Your Face", then we did a video for that song and after hearing for over 200 times you get sick of itÖ
Karma: Öit's a very cool video, by the way!
Alexi: Have you seen it? [Smiles]
Karma: Yeah! [Smiles]
Alexi: Cool, cool!
Karma: It's been on Headbangers Ball two or three times now and they are always running the commercial for it too.
Alexi: Oh, that's cool!
Karma: Wanna say it debuted three weeks ago?!
Alexi: Really? No shit!! [Beams] But shooting the video I have to hear the song 200 times in a row, you know what I mean. So after that you're kind of sick of it, so I think right now it's "Living Dead Beat".
Karma: Okay. Whatís the story behind your computer phobia? Fans on the message board seem to think you have one.
Alexi: [Laughs] Itís not really a phobia, itís just I donít know. I like to talk to people, like this, but I hate fucking typing and I hate the whole thing, especially the Internet, there are just too many dumb people! Trying to be a total badass and obviously theyíre really not, which just fucking pisses me off! But itís fun sometimes to go in our website and read [posts]. Iím not trying to say that theyíre all like that, itís just a certain group of peopleÖ
Karma: Yes, I know, unfortunately Iíve dealt with some of themÖ [We both laugh]
Alexi: [Shakes head] So itís like itís probably this fucking computer geek who has no fucking friends and no life and heís being all bad ass over the fucking Internet and talking shit. I donít...man, itís fucked up! [Laughs]
Karma: [Nods head] Speaking of the Internet, I know that you are against downloading and MP3ís and stuffÖ What do you think of the latest findings that the Sony Corporation is using a method of installing rootkits on a users' computer and destroying their hard drives and or making it a possible breeding ground for hackers to destroy their computers. Of course, all of this is in the name of stopping downloaders and thwarting the potential theft of their copy written material?
Alexi: I donít know. The thing is I think the MP3 thing is the future of music whether we like it or not. I just hope that they can come up with some sort of solution that it would not be stealing from the artist or stealing from the record company. I mean if you download shit for free, it is stealing, I mean come on, letís just face it.
Karma: No, youíre right.
Alexi: So I just kind of hope that they could come up with some kind of idea that would work out. I think that if [the consumer] would actually pay for that then it would be cheaper than buying a CD, which means that in the future thereís no point in making booklets or anything like that, you know what Iím saying.
Karma: HmmÖgood point.
Alexi: That costs money too, you know.
Alexi: Thereís no point to do that either which is kind of sad but fuck it! For me I always go into the stores and buy CDís. But apparently, not a lot of people are doing this anymore.
Karma: What are your thoughts on getting your songs on I-Tunes or a similar service? (IrOn_mE)
Alexi: I guess thatís like I said the future, you know. I guess thatís how itís gonna be. If I understand it correctly, you pay a certain amount of money for one song or something like that.
Karma: Right, or a set subscription feeÖ
Alexi: Öyeah, but if thatís how itís gonna be, thereís no point to making booklets or anything like that which is you know kind of retarded. Itís like you make an album but the album doesnít exist like itís not here. [Laughs] Itís fucked up.
Karma: Well when you look at it from that angle, it is! What are your comments on the album being leaked before it was released? (Fatalized)
Alexi: It was?
Karma: Sure was!
Alexi: Oh god, I didnít know that! Of course! You know, thatís inevitable. Itís always gonna happen! Iím too tired to even to get too worked up over it, to get pissed off, whatever dude! I donít even fucking care anymore. Iím so pissed about that whole subject that Iím too tired of being pissed off about it! Iím just like whatever.
Karma: Well I need your opinion on another matter now, what are your thoughts on Nightwish with the band getting rid of Tarja?
Alexi: Iím glad they did!
Karma: [Shock fills my countenance] You did? You are?
Alexi: PfftÖ Yeah definitely! Well you know I'm pretty good friends with Tuomas [Holopainen] and he just told me a lot of fucked up stories. It was a year ago [he told me] how it is with them and how she was, especially her fucked up husband/manager, you know. She was definitely holding them back, you know and being a total fucking diva, or whatever! She was just all about the money so I was just sayingÖhe is the band! He writes all the music, all the lyrics all they need is a good-looking chick who knows how to sing. She's not irreplaceable or nothing like that! So, I'm happy that they got rid of her.
Karma: Understood. Well here's a series of questions from your fans.
Karma: What kind of shampoo do you use?
Alexi: [Snickers] Pantene right now! [Laughter ensues] (Sphinx]
Karma: [Smiles] What was your first nice guitar rig [amp/guitar cab etc.) and how old were you when you got it? (Peyton)
Alexi: Well it's pretty much the same stuff I'm playing right now. It's a Jackson preamp, BHT power amp, and Marshall JMC 100 cabinet. I think I was eighteen when I got the late Jackson preamp. That's pretty much the only thing that I've been sticking with. I change power amps all the time.
Karma: Where do you get your tattoos done? (Draznog)
Alexi: Ummm, anywhere, most of them I got done in Helsinki, one I got done in LA. I actually got one done here in Chicago as well. [Smiles]
Karma: Oh, where did you go?
Alexi: I don't know it actually wasn't in Chicago; it was some suburbÖforgot what it was called. I don't know how I ended up there but it was some sort of redneckish party. [We both laugh] There was a bunch of people just drinking beer and there was this one dude with tattoo needles and equipment and shit, then he started doing tattoos for people. I was like, "Cool! I want to get one!" It was cool. [Laughs]
Karma: Do you have a favorite piece of fan art? (Lanterns)
Alexi: There was this one dude and a chick in Brazil, they made a small model of my guitar that got stolen, and it was a Jackson guitar. It was small but amazingly accurate! [Smiles] They did every single scratch that I had on the guitar and there was this one sticker that I had on the guitarÖit was like, everything. It was like, "Your guitar got stolen but we can give you this!" and I thought it was really nice.
Karma: Ohh, that was nice of them. Okay here's the burning question, why do you spit so much? [We both laugh]
Alexi: [Laughs] I don't know, well first of all, I smoke a lot and when I'm singing I've just got a lot of shit coming from my throat all the time, you know! [Laughs] So I have to spit all the time.
Karma: Okay, fair enough! So what's the latest with Sinergy? (Southern Bell In Hell)
Alexi: Well the albums almost recorded, there's just vocals and guitars from a few songs that are missing, other words it's done.
Karma: Any chance you doing another live album?
Alexi: There's always a chance for everything but we're not planning on doing anything like that right now.
Karma: Which of his influences were you more nervous about meeting and how did meeting that person affect him?
Alexi: Well I guess it was Zakk Wylde and Steve Vai. [Smiles] When I did a photo, shoot with them for Guitar World. It was just mostly Steve Vai because I had met Zakk before and he was totally cool, you know. [Eyes light up] But you know Steve Vai is probably like one of my all-time favorite guitar players, ever! I mean he's the reason why I started playing guitar anyway. So I was just hoping that he wouldn't be a dick or anything [laughter ensues] and he was super nice and everything.
Karma: That's awesome!
Alexi: Yeah, it was cool! [Beams]
Karma: What are your thoughts about Dimebag's death, being it's almost a full year?
Alexi: [Eyes drop, shakes head, and looks down] PfftÖWell, I don't know, what can you say? It's fucked up! I mean it's more fucked up than fucked up! You know!
Karma: It is.
Alexi: Yeah, I remember when I heard about it this journalist guy called me up asking a few questions for this magazine about that and that's when I heard about it! For me, it's like being on stage has always been the safest place. You feel like you're untouchable when you're on stage, you know. Nothing can happen to you, but shit, it's nothing like that at all. It's like, pfftÖI don't know! I'm still definitely shocked about it, I'd rather not think about it. Obviously, I mean fuck, I'm still a big fan of Dimebag and everything, Pantera. It's just so wrong that kind of thing happened.
Karma: [Said softly] Yeah, definitely!
Alexi: I mean why couldn't that have happened to some fucking less worthy hag like, Ashlee Simpson or someone like that! [We laugh hysterically] I mean shit; you know he was a talent!
Karma: That he was!! What made it so bad for us is that it happened a week after they played here at the HOBÖso it was really fresh.
Alexi: Really? Wow!
Alexi: That's just crazy!
Karma: Very! Uhmmm, do you have a favorite quote, movie or otherwise?
Alexi: I probably do but I just canít think of one right now. I'm trying to think of something from the Blues Brothers. [Smiles] That's like my top three favorite movies definitely.
Janne: [Spoken quickly in a very thick Finnish accent] "We're on a mission from God".
Alexi: [Laughs] Yeah, well that's good enough.
Karma: [Looks perplexed] I'm sorryÖ
Alexi: Yeah, we're not like religious at all but we just say, "We're on a mission from God" all of the time.
Karma: Oh, okay.
Alexi: I mean, we're actually not, but it's okay. [Laughter ensues]
Karma: Pretty apropos, since you're here in the House of Blues anyway, rightÖ
Alexi: Yeah, yeah, yeah!!
Karma: Öso it sort of falls into place. What are your favorite restaurants? (Oceanqueen44)
Alexi: UmmmÖI'm trying to think. Well my favorite kind of food is Subway! [Laughs] I'll say Subway definitely! If that qualifies as a restaurant.
Karma: It's considered a fast food restaurant but it's still a restaurant and still qualifies as food right?
Alexi: [Laughs] Well, yeah! Yeah!! It does, I mean I don't know, I like these diners that you guys have here because that whole diner culture doesn't really happen in Finland. 'Cos everybody cooks at home and stuff like that. I mean here, it almost seems like everybody goes out to eat but usually people just like to cook and shit like that. So I like places like Denny's and IHOP and shit like that, that kind of food. Breakfast you can get from there is good stuff!
Karma: Sure is! Okay, so what's with the story of the DVD [for the Japanese edition of the album]? Rumour has it that you lost it. (Fatalized)
Alexi: What? [Says in utter disbelief] Why me? Fuck! [Says softly] [We laugh hysterically] It wasn't me! It was fucking Fed Ex, that's what it wasÖseriously! Well I can understand why people would think that but still, it wasn't me! [Laughs] You know.
Karma: Well there always has to be one who gets blamed for everything, you are the frontman after all!!
Alexi: Yeah, I know! I always lose everythingÖ
Karma: Öbut not that!
Karma: What was the most embarrassing moment of your life?
Alexi: UmmÖI'm trying to think. I remember one time I was in second grade, elementary school, I kind of had like long hair, whatever. I was eight, nine, or whatever and then there was like thisÖwhen the school endsÖ what is it fucking called? Well, it doesn't matter, [laughs] anyway. I was in second grade, right and I had to go to the barbershop to get my haircut, just a little bit though, not a lot completely. My dad took me there and he had to go somewhere. The guy that was cutting my hair, I mean I was reading comic books or whatever I wasn't looking at what the guy was doing. And he was like, "Should I get more?" and I was like, "Yeah, sure!" "Should I get more?" "Yeah!" The fucking guy kinda like shaved my head! [Hysterical laughter fills the room] When I went back to school, everybody was laughing. They were kinda like, "Ha ha ha, dude! You look fucking stupid!" I got into like ten fistfights or some shit like that! [Laughs] it was horrible! After that, seriously, I'd fucking freak about my hair. I wouldn't like anybody cutting my hair at all, you know.
Karma: Are you still this way?
Alexi: Ahhh, I think I've gotten over it pretty much but [chuckles] my mom still cuts my hair.
Karma: Ohhh! Do you guys spend time with each other in general, when you're not practicing/touring/in the studio?
Alexi: Yeah, yeah, we go out drinking and stuff like that. (Chaosia)
Karma: They also want to know if you get into argumentsÖ
Alexi: Önot like serious arguments. We never fight but we're always just bitching at each other like play fighting or whatever. It's like we really get along, we're good friends but we argue about stupid stuff, no serious stuff.
Karma: Well that's good to hear. [Smiles] How do you feel about (Bodom murder suspect) Nils Gustafsson not being convicted, especially when he looked to be utterly guilty? (Midnightblueshade)
Alexi: Well I think he was guilty, definitely! I think everybody does. Then again, I'm pretty sure his life's gonna be fucked up from now on anyway. 'Cos everybody knows his face, everybody knows what he looks like! Plus everybody thinks that he's guilty so I mean people aren't going to be too nice to him. But I mean shit, that [case] is like forty five years old so it wouldn't have really mattered if he had gotten convicted or not.
Karma: Last show attended as a fan not as a performer.
Alexi: Mmm, let me think. I think it was Black Label Society in Helsinki.
Karma: What are your thoughts on Apocalyptica since they make a different kind of music, yet still metal?
Alexi: Yeah, the whole things pretty interesting. I never liked when they just started doing Metallica songs with the cellos and all the shit like that. You know what, I think itís cool but it all gets boring rather quick at least for me!
Karma: Have you seen them perform live?
Alexi: No, that could be a different thing, definitely!
Karma: It is! They are very good live!
Karma: Yes. Actually you already touched on your tour in Australia; they wanted to know what your expectations of Australia were if you had any. (Deathroller)
Alexi: It went really good! We didnít know what to expect at all.
Karma: Now this was your first time over there, right?
Alexi: Yeah, but they were all sold-out and everything so it was good! You know I love that country too! Itís really nice people; itís kinda like the States but itís super, super, clean. Itís hard to explain. [Smiles] In a way, itís different from everywhere, you know. It was cool!
Karma: If you weren't a famous musician who (dead, alive, past, or present) would, you want to be a roadie for and why? (HeavenScent)
Alexi: [Laughs] Hmmm, I guess it would be for Steve Vai that would definitely be a challenge. I would be his guitar tech or something.
Karma: Interests outside of music. (Shagoroth)
Alexi: Cars for example! I like cars. [Smiles] Drinking, thatís fun! [We both laugh]
Karma: How do you feel about the music scene in Finland?
Alexi: I think itís growing all of the time and getting better definitely! I donít know why, but thereís a whole bunch of metal bands coming from Finland right now. Bands quit like Sentenced and stuff like that which is a shame.
Karma: Sure was!!
Alexi: I always liked them, but yeah I think itís pretty good right now.
Karma: Would you say itís fair to compare Finland's 21st century metal scene to that of Norway in the later 80's and early 90's?
Alexi: I donít think you really can because there was no Finnish scene ten years ago, I mean there was, but it wasnít nearly as strong as it was right now.
Karma: And how good is your Swedish? (Lake Bodom)
Alexi: [Snickers] itís really bad! Itís not like I really paid attention in school, I speak a little Swedish you know butÖ Itís pretty bad! [Smiles]
Alexi: [Smiles] Ole hyvš!
Karma: Well I hope that the rest of the tour is awesome for you Alexi!
Alexi: Thanks, I hope so too!
Iíd like to thank Alexi for speaking with FourteenG again, to Wolfgang, the bandís tour manager, and to Jensen Lee at Adrenaline PR for making this a possibility!
v Click here for photos / review from the Unholy Alliance Tour
v Here for previous interview with Alexi
v Here for new interview with Henkka
v Here for previous interview with Henkka
v Here for photos from tonight's show
v Here for second COB/Amon Amarth show
v Here for review of AYDY
v Here for new catch up interview with Alexi